Sentencing refers to the punishment that is ordered when an individual is found guilty of a criminal offence. Sentences must always comply with the purpose and principles of sentencing as outlined in the Criminal Code. Part XXIII of the Criminal Code, beginning at section 716, contains the rules pertaining to sentencing in Canada. Section 718 of the Code indicates that the fundamental purpose of sentencing is to protect society and to encourage a respect for the law and maintenance of a peaceful, just, and safe society.
The Code also outlines the fundamental principle of justice as well as other sentencing principles and sentencing objectives. It provides a non-exhaustive list of aggravating and mitigating factors that the court must consider when imposing a sentence. Beginning at section 720, the Code provides rules related to procedure during sentencing hearings and the type of evidence that may be presented at a sentencing hearing.
Maximum sentences are included alongside each offence throughout the Code. Mandatory minimum penalties, provisions related to discharges, and alternatives to sentencing options are also provided. The Code provides the authority for the various sentencing options including probation, incarceration, community service, conditional sentences, restitution, and fines and forfeiture. Finally, the Code provides rules for parole eligibility and delivery of the offender to prison where custody has been ordered.